Implementors


Someone forwarded me a video link recently and I followed it to www.TED.com.  I noticed their tag line:  Ideas worth spreading.  Riveting talks, by remarkable people, free to the world.  This website is a collection of inspirational videos on random subjects.  I prowled around briefly, mildly impressed with their tag line.

The speeches are filmed in a good technological setting but the people in question are not world-class communicators.  They are simply people with a passion.

So I listened to Brene Brown talk about overcoming shame.  Halla Tomasdottir gave a very straight forward feminist rant about why men were the cause of the economic debacle in Iceland and her female run financial services company dodged the bullet simply because they thought like women.  Oliver Sacks explored the physiology of blind people having hallucinations.  A teacher shared her new model for transforming kids in the classroom instead of educating them.

All were interesting.  None of them were particularly compelling — in fact I don’t think I finished any of the clips.   I was just in a drifting mood but after a few minutes, I closed the site and went on to something else.

As I dug into the assignment du jour, my internal monitor tentatively floated the observation that I felt better after watching those.  Since I was surprised by the comment and was not really engaged yet in the productive, cerebral endeavor of the hour, I leaned back, put my heels up on my desk and listened inside.

I was indeed feeling upbeat, positive, encouraged, energized.  And it had to have come from the video clips.  What a surprise.  How could I have unintentionally received an emotional lift from such a low impact exercise? 

Whenever we accidentally do something right, we try to reverse engineer it to figure out if we can do it again — or better yet, bottle it and make it available to you too.  So I went to work breaking the whole down into its component parts.

It wasn’t the technology.  Their video work was just right:  good enough to not distract, but they abstained from all the fancy technogeek stuff that actually detracts from presentations in my opinion.

It didn’t seem to be the topics.  None kept me engaged to the end.

I wondered if these were big spirited prechristians.  Umm…possibly one out of the batch, but no, for the most part they were pretty soulish.

I camped for a while on the fact that they didn’t want anything from me.  Most everyone I meet, from the checker at the store to the e-mailer at work, wants something from me. Sometimes they are overt ($63.29 please), and sometimes there are well-hidden agendas. 

It was quite true that none of these people needed a thing from the audience.  Each was absolutely convinced that they had mastered their trade and they were here to share strength, vision, and strategy with us.  They came to give intellectually and in the process they gave emotionally as well.

I wondered if that was it.  Was I just so depleted from too many hoses in my tank that a small dab of life flowing my way gave me such a lift?  It seemed extreme.  I didn’t think I was THAT depleted.  Still, for lack of a better answer, I assumed that was it.

The situation kept on churning in the background as my heels came down and my fingers began to prance around the keyboard once again. 

Then today it hit me.  They were implementors and they were being celebrated!  They had all started from zero or below and had built something of substance. They had results.  Each one had walked through an uncharted maze, with varying degrees of (non)support, facing sundry problems at home and at work while they pursued an answer, AND THEY ARRIVED.

This is what fed my soul. This is where the rub is for me. 

There is such a world of difference between a visionary and a dreamer.  The dreamers talk big about what they are going to do, but they have a thousand excuses for why they are not moving toward their dream today. 

The visionaries are able to look at the same bleak landscape the dreamers see, but they invest deeply of their own selves in order to leverage meager resources into a tiny bit of solid ground, then against all odds they leverage that spot into a space and the space into a playing field.

After years or decades of set backs, heart breaks, losses and successes, they have something to show for their ordeal while the dreamers are still celebrating what will be, while they make soft choices on a day-to-day basis.

I loved the fact that there was a forum for implementors to share their journey and their excellence with no inhibitions. 

In our Christian community there are two killers which broadly prevent us from doing what they did.  First is the false humility theology that equates all excellence as a show of pride.  Second is the endless huckstering in the church which causes people to tune out as soon as someone talks about their vision, because we know they will be passing the tin cup at the end of their spiel.

Not so with these people.  They had a forum where it was OK to talk about their broken beginnings, their challenging road and their joy in triumphing.  They were not looking for money or recruits.  They simply celebrated the joy of developing a new tool, approach, business or idea, and they were in turn celebrated by people who came for no other reason than to celebrate success.

I realized that this is part of who we are at Sapphire Leadership Group.  On the one hand we listen with boredom and pain to the many dreamers who want to be affirmed in their decision not to act on their calling. 

On the other, we are a safe place to celebrate excellence.  So many do celebrate with us.

Whether on the phone or via e-mail, a lot of people who have successfully executed a plan, against all odds, tell us about it and find a safe context to share their triumph. 

And it is tragic that so many of them have no one else to celebrate with.  It is just not right that they can’t share with those around them because of jealousy, because of small-minded people, because of the guardians of humility and all those other reasons.

It is just not right that when someone has worked hard and achieved much, their very success becomes yet another point of danger for them.

So on this New Year’s Day, 2011, I am challenging you to make a different kind of New Year’s Resolution.  Instead of committing to some new discipline that is going to make you a better person, what if you made a commitment to once a month make a safe venue for celebration for someone who had achieved?

When you are at the hair dresser’s, or the gym, or the bowling alley, or fishing, or sitting with Granddad at the family reunion, ask one of these two questions.  “What is the hardest thing you ever overcame in your life?”  “What is the biggest thing you ever accomplished?”

Then sit back and listen and marvel.  Most of the greatest stories in our midst are not told, until someone who has a commitment to be a celebrant builds a platform.

Think of it this way:  here on earth our theology is all about focusing on Jesus to the exclusion of ourselves.  And there is a lot to that.

But have you ever thought about the fact that most of what we know about heaven is that our King will be celebrating us?

From the heart warming greeting, “Well done, good and faithful servant” to the fact that our clothing will be customized to represent our accomplishments, heaven is about celebrating our achievements.

So if Christ models that for us, why don’t we offer that to friends and strangers around us?

Next time you are at the Little League game sitting next to someone cheering for his grandson, ask him about his best play when he was playing sandlot baseball, back in the day.

Copyright January 2011 by Arthur Burk

From the Quarterdeck, in Anaheim

This entry was posted in Perspectives, The Culture, The Kingdom of God. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Implementors

  1. Lynn Ferriman says:

    Hello Arthur,

    I have been singularly unsuccessful with any revelation on BALMORAL THE LAND, but today, I read implementors, and thought after reading the part where you say ” VISIONARIES LOOK AT THE SAME BLEAK LANDSCAPE- INVEST DEEPLY OF THEMSELVES IN ORDER TO LEVERAGE MEAGRE RESOURCES INTO A TINY BIT OF SOLID GROUND, THEN AGAINST ALL ODDS IT CHANGES INTO A PLAYING FIELD. I believe this of BALMORAL. Now added to this I wonder about a playing field, and I dont see a football field but a functional community operating with God’s principles, each with a certain talent. A living church. I live on a small holding in the westrand, where there is a main house and 5 cottages. By being nearby yet private, I have been able to speak the heart of Jesus to some pre Christians, just by helping out when there is a need. I do it less often at my church, as i see them twice a week. Just a thought to add to the pot.

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  2. Lindsey says:

    I enjoyed hearing Jeannie’s triathlon story….my dear friend was completing an Ironman in Mexico and I was determined to “cheer” her on even from my apartment in New England. The Ironman website offered periodic updates on each leg of the race and I searched for her race bib number frequently throughout the day to pray for her journey and celebrate her progress in the arduous 112 mile race. I knew she didn’t have her cell phone with her, but that didn’t stop me from exclaiming my joy along the way via text messages. So, after she crossed the finish line and had access to her phone, I wanted her to know I was with her the entire way and praying for her. The process of watching another intentionally and praying continually through the “race” causes us to see our own victories more clearly. Ultimately, celebrating every stroke my friend swam, mile she pedaled, and step she ran boosted my spirit immensely. Lately, I’ve encountered much struggle with death, destruction, and brokenness – and I am certain that the Lord wants me to turn the tables on that evil and develop competence and understanding about how to celebrate well. Even to celebrate with flair and gusto – that is a skill. It is easy to believe that the pain and heartache we experience will endure forever and that we can never be free of it. But that’s not true! Christ came to give us freedom and new life. Life in this world can be so trying that we forget the abundant life God has promised. I believe celebration is an essential component to finding the abundant life He died to give us. Maybe suicide occurs out of a person’s grief (and resignation) that celebration is no longer relevant, no longer
    possible.

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  3. Jeannie says:

    The day after my father in laws funeral, his daughter invited us to attend a triathalon. She had signed up to race months prior and felt her Dad wold have been proud to have her complete the race. Regretfully, I was not thrilled to go. She was more openly hostile towards me as she grieved the loss of her Dad. The idea of cheering her on felt false.. my own bitterness flooded my heart and tired my soul.

    As I sat sulking on the side lines, some of the women started coming in from the biking portion of the race. I was cheering them on and soon found myself starting to feel joy and deep sorrow at the same time. I no idea what was causing this flood of emotion, but did my best to keep cheering and stop crying.

    What did me in was this lovely women beside me in her 50s. She explained her daughter in law’s Mom had died a few years ago. She made it a point to attend her dilaw’s races-knowing this young woman was missing her own Mom.

    Suddenly all her attention went to the finish line. This Mom in law began cheering clapping, calling out “good race Susan you are doing great” as she ran over to help the young woman with her bike. My heart and tear ducts opened up like a flood, all the while asking God, what is going on with me here!

    Seeing so many who had paid a price to train , then put themselves out there for all to see in their struggle and weakness-( in spandex!) had me in awe of each one. Watching each cross the finish lines grabbed my spirit in an intense way. I loved being able to celebrate them. You could see them soaking this up as they prepared for the next leg of the race.

    Watching this Mom in law filled with love and parental pride -celebrating her son’s wife, hit me square in the heart. This Mom kept cheering as she ran to attend to her daughter in law, helping her the transition from bike to foot race speaking encouragment to her all the while.

    My own Mom was never able to do much celebrating, but my husband’s Mom did this better than anyone. She was not gushing or effusive. More loving, intentional, authentic and consistant. She had a way of causing me to feel celebrated, loved, accepted. When she died, how I missed this!

    Seeing it modeled so sweetly at this race pulled me off this awful path bitterness and onto the road of celebration and joy. How much more easily we can endure pain and harship when there is someone celebrating us and we them! I picked my sad sulking self off the curb and cheered everyone who had a number pinned to their shirt that day and loved every minute of it. Especially as my siser in law made her way down the final stretch.

    There is also a YouTube of a young man with autism who faithfully helped serve a basketball team. This young man also celebrated the team players with great enthusiasm and joy from the sidelines. At one point he is asked to play in the game. This had never been done before- the coach wanted to honor him for his faithfulness. No one expected him to do anything noteworthy. Miraculousy this young man began putting that ball in the basket not once but two or three times. His team mates on the side lines were standing on the benches, jumping up and down, screaming shouting hugging each other- beside themselves with joy… it was a celebration like none they had before.

    This reminds me all of us are in a race – all the while cheering and celebrating others. Wonderful. Oh to do this well! Will some finish that may not have with out this? What a great message Authur. Thank you .

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  4. Erica says:

    Never heard of TED till your post then suddenly I’ve heard it mentioned several times in the last two days. A friend of mine sent me a link to this womans talk on vulnerability. She is a “research, story teller” as she explains in the video. I think you would enjoy her. http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability.html

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  5. Amy says:

    I love this idea of celebrating with another person; it’s a way of finding the “gold” in them and celebrating it for no other reason than that! And as we celebrate with that person we are ultimately also celebrating our most amazing Creator, which is a bonus, who in turn is celebrating with us. Sounds like my kind of party! Thanks for putting feet on this that provides us all a way to run, Arthur! You are a treasure, and I celebrate you, too!

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  6. Irina says:

    May I share a friend’s triumph?
    I’ve known her for a few years now. She is RG Servant and has struggled with addictions and low self esteem but has persevered with God, lately enjoying a new level of freedom and healing. Her typical uniform is a large T-shirt and baggy jeans, hair in a tight ponytail. But yesterday she came out of a side room at church and I couldn’t believe my eyes. She wore a brightly printed dress and leggings – she looked fabulous. We laughed and hugged, so happy to enjoy her gift of freedom to herself. But here’s the kicker, her husband has recently come to church and slowly warmed up to many of us. He is a former gang member, shedding that past life, but still reclusive and pretty sure no church goer would befriend him. But that has changed in the last year and our New Year’s Eve party was proof of his new life because he loved being with all of us. They’d gone home a little early and wondered why they’d left! It was as if she’d been stuck in a cave and now her beloved husband shared the same enthusiasm for Christian community. I teared up as we talked about this miracle.
    That moment was a gift for both of us and I would have missed it had I not read this post in the morning. Jeanie is right, it really took no toll.

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  7. Alex Thompson says:

    I think you really nailed why I enjoy Ted.com so much. I seldom watch more than one presentation every couple of weeks, but I love the way people are celebrated, ideas are spread and people come away thinking, “You know, maybe I really ought to get back to pursuing my dream!” My own cynicism needs a healthy counter dose of inspiration periodically.

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  8. Wendy says:

    I love this, it goes along with all you have taught us about giving dignity. It challenges me as well to not focus on the victim mentality that I so often hear throughout the story, and focus on the celebration of victory. I agree whole heartedly that we as Christians have not set our brothers and sisters up for sharing without all of the “conditions”. Very liberating! I love to see people shine, and this is one more tool to help provide a platform for them to do just that.
    Joy!
    Wendy

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  9. Sonia says:

    Sharp, very sharp! I like this one Arthur!

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  10. Lisa says:

    Thank you for this message, Arthur. I find all of your messages inspirational. But I really loved this one as it celebrates the creation power of sound via words:

    Prov 25:11 – A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver
    Prov 18:21 – The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

    May God continue to bless your wonderful expression of who He has made you to be.

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  11. Rosa says:

    Awesome observation and challenge.This may not exactly fit the context, but I actually found myself celebrating with a complete stranger last week. I had taken my mother to the eye doctor, and as I was sitting in the waiting room, I was observing the comings and goings of people around me. There was one lady who just recieved a new fake eye, and she came out, BEAMING, and since I was the only one sitting there, she says to me’Doesnt this look REAL? You cant even tell the difference’! I assured her, it looked very real, and we celebrated the fact that there were doctors and technology that could create something so real looking, that obviously gave her a new sense of dignity. I look forward to being intentional in celebrating someone else’s achievements..it takes the pressure off of the typical resolutions , (not that I make them anymore.)

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  12. Jeanie Rose says:

    What a delightful plan. Everyone has at least one story to tell. Hearing them is energizing, really takes no toll, but offers bonuses to the listener(s). What if this idea spread like wildfire? What if everyone took a few minutes a day to invest in this? What if? I can feel my heart smiling.

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    • Plumbline Ministries says:

      And I happen to know that you, my long term Friend, have had some formidable battles to fight in your life and you have a warehouse full of little known triumphs under your belt. I would be honored to have you write a guest column for this blog sharing one of those triumphs. If you send it to me in Word, I will post it here.

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  13. Grace says:

    Now this is a resolution I can actually keep! I’ve done this before, only to find many whom I asked to be speechless….They were so far removed from celebrating their achievements, they couldn’t even name them! So sad. Let’s change that.

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